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The year of the gap-tooth trend

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Fewer than 10 percent of the world’s population is naturally gap-toothed.


Published: December 08, 2010 8:27 p.m.
Last modified: December 08, 2010 8:30 p.m.
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In the past, gapped front teeth were associated with geeky, nerdy, awkward … geeks. Today, they are being branded as a “perfect imperfection‚” the latest beauty must-have. In France they are called the “dents du Bonheur” (“teeth of luck”) and over in Nigeria, some consider them to be a sign of a strong sexual nature. How much would you spend to get one?

For many, the memory of long teenage years spent with heavy metal braces remains vivid and painful: Teeth clanging together during a first kiss, the excruciating pain of re-tightening. But others left theirs uncorrected and are intriguing because of it.

Think of Madonna, models Georgia May Jagger and Lara Stone, “True Blood” star Anna Paquin and Chanel muse Vanessa Paradis. They represent the modern gap-mouthed beauty. (And a minority: Fewer than 10 percent of the world population is naturally gap-toothed.)

“It’s a trend toward individuality,” says dental surgeon Debra Glassman. “The idea that a gap-toothed woman is more sexy holds weight when you think of those showing them off today.”

Cosmetic dentist Dr. Irwin Smigel claims people are coming to him to make their smiles look more natural. “Natural-looking teeth have gradations in tone, tiny imperfections in shape — and can even vary by skin tone,” he says. “Perfect teeth look like you’re trying too try hard, and a gap will invariably imply that the smile is natural.” The question is, how far will you go to get the look?

Glassman’s clients are prepared to pay on average $1,200 to have a permanent gap cosmetically created. Once she and a patient have settled on the size of the space, she removes the tooth area on either side of the area to be “gapped,” making a mold of those teeth that were altered. The mold will be used to create fingernail-thin porcelain coverings for the teeth on either side of the gap. There are drawbacks, such as increased sensitivity caused by reducing the adjacent teeth and weakened bone support when the gap is created via orthodontic braces. But that hasn’t stopped the vain clients willing to do this. In Smigel’s opinion, “gaps look great, it’s just a question of whether or not the person can pull it off.”

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